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Bill Rammell: We have brought up funding levels for Further Education (FE) as we said we would, without penalising schools. The Learning and Skills Council's (LSC) funding rates per course in FE have been rising faster than school sixth forms and the gap has narrowed.
Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many schools have been subject to the Fresh Start programme since its inception; and how many of these schools have been (a) closed and (b) converted to academies. 
Jacqui Smith: 44 Schools have been included in the Government's Fresh Start programme so far, including three which are to open in September. Two Fresh Start schools have closed and one more is due to close this year. None has converted to an academy, but there are plans for Corby Community College in Northamptonshire to become an academy from September 2007.
Jacqui Smith: Tackling homophobic bullying in schools is an issue which is taken seriously by the Department; as with any other kind of bullying it cannot be tolerated. We must challenge homophobic language and attitudes wherever we find them and support our children and young people to do the same.
In November 2004, we organised, in conjunction with the Anti-Bullying Alliance (ABA), the first ever National Anti-Bullying Week which had a strong emphasis on combating homophobic bullying. During the week Stephen Twigg attended the 5th birthday celebration of the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Award for Young People, where he announced a new Diana Anti-bullying Award, for which we have given funding of £50,000. At this event, he also launched new guidance for schools entitled "Stand Up for Us: Challenging Homophobia in Schools" which was prepared by the National Healthy Schools Standard with considerable input from the Department. Stand Up For Us sets out a practical approach for schools to assess quickly the scale of homophobic bullying they face. And it offers practical steps schools can take to create an environment where everyone can feel welcome and valued and where specific instances of bullying are identified, challenged and dealt with effectively.
During anti bullying week, we also published "Homophobia, Sexual Orientation and Schools: a review and implications for action". This review, by the Thomas Coram Research Unit, looks at three areas: behaviour and bullying; teaching and learning about sexual orientation and relationships; and employment issues. It collates, summarises and assesses both peer reviewed research material, from this country and abroad, and less formal work conducted by bodies active in this area. It also reports the views of a wide range of organisations, 28 in all, with an interest in this area to paint a picture of how the issues are currently perceived. The report is available on the DfES website http://www.dfes.gov.uk/research and the findings will be used to inform future work in this area.
The Departments work in this critical area is on-going and we supported Schools Out in promoting the first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) History Month in February 2005, and have funded the
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development of a website which will raise awareness and encourage participation. The website suggested activities and events that schools, colleges, universities, libraries, museums, galleries, archives, and theatres could organise and offered teachers specific lesson plans and assembly suggestions to encourage and support schools in marking LGBT History Month. It also provided an online notice board of events and link to current news relevant to LGBT History Month.
Jacqui Smith: The School Standards and Framework Act 1998 requires that maintained schools have a policy to prevent all forms of bullying among pupils. In addition, 'Don't Suffer in Silence' the Department's anti-bullying guidance to schools advises that explicit reference be made to homophobic bullying and racist bullying in this policy. The guidance also offers a range of strategies to counter all forms of bullying and create an environment in which all members of the school community can thrive, and feel respected, safe and secure.
The DfES Five Year Strategy states our expectation that all schools will sign up to the Anti Bullying Charter for Action, which is a voluntary commitment to creating a school community where bullying is not tolerated, and is signed by the Head Teacher, Chair of Governors and a Pupils' Representative. The anti-bullying Charter, which includes specific reference to homophobic bullying, went to every maintained school in England and is accompanied by a summary of effective practice to help schools review and enhance their anti-bullying policies.
Jacqui Smith: Data are not recorded in the way the question asks, but the percentage of 15-year-old pupils in all schools achieving A*-G in GCSE English has improved from 88.5 per cent. in 1996/97 to 91 per cent. in 2003/04. However we should not draw the conclusion that those who do not achieve a GCSE grade in English are not able to read and write. The figures are set out in the following table.
|Number of 15-year-old pupils(13)||Percentage achieving A*-G in GCSE English|
|Level 4 or above||Level 5|
Bill Rammell: The information is not held centrally. The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service's website currently lists 16 universities and colleges which offer courses in culinary arts or management, but it does not include detailed descriptions of the content of these courses.
Jacqui Smith: Following a competitive tendering exercise in 2004, the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) was appointed to administer PISA 2006 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Scottish Executive conducted a separate exercise and has appointed The SCRE Centre, University of Glasgow to run the study in Scotland.
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